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 Black Stats          
Frequently requested data on African American consumers

Black Buying Power:
  $744 Billion (2006)

Black U.S. Population:
  38.3 million

Top Five Black Cities
  - New York
  - Chicago
  - Detroit
  - Philadelphia
  - Houston

Top Five Black Metros:
  - New York-New Jersey
  - Washington-Baltimore
  - Chicago-Gary
  - Los Angeles
  - Philadelphia

Top Five Expenditures:
 - Housing $121.6 bil.
 - Food $59.2 bil.
 - Cars/Trucks $32.1 bil.
 - Clothing $27.7 bil.
 - Health Care $17.8 bil.

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Acme food chain's Black History circular touting greens, grape soda causes stir

By Hiran Ratnayake
The Wilmington News Journal

(February 7, 2009) One thing is clear about Acme Markets' recent Black History Month circular: It sparked a debate.

Two NAACP chapters have different views about the circular. It has forced Supervalu, which owns Acme, to defend itself against accusations of racism.

All for an advertisement the company says it has been running for seven years and never caused a flap before.

In its Jan. 29 circulars, under a "Black History Month" banner, a set of specials is advertised for products including corn bread, collard greens and grape soda. Since then, the Delaware chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says more than a hundred people have complained the products perpetuate stereotypes. Delaware NAACP President Cecil C. Wilson called for Acme to immediately run a full-page apology "in all of Delaware's newspapers."

"It's racist, it's insensitive, it's not culturally correct," Wilson said. "Don't assume that to celebrate Black History Month that we must have corn bread. Whoever put this ad together thought it'd be a good joke."

Officials from Supervalu did not respond to interview requests Friday. In a statement, the company said the advertisement was designed to highlight Black History Month and many of the items are products supplied through the company's "supplier diversity program."

"For example, Glory Foods, an African American-owned manufacturer, is featured with four of its products because it is our way of supporting and strengthening their brand with added exposure during the month of February," the statement said.

Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., operates 12 Acme supermarkets in Delaware and 118 others in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The promotional ad, which went to 3.5 million households, also advertises a President Barack Obama DVD and plaque, paper towels, dish soap, energy drinks and Jose Ole chimichangas and tacos.

The ad wasn't offensive to Jerry Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, whose organization has teamed up with Supervalu for events in the past, including in-store promotions.

Mondesire said Supervalu doesn't need to apologize for anything.

"I eat those foods, so it's fine if someone markets those foods to me," Mondesire said of the corn bread and collard greens. "A lot of companies market to African-Americans during the month of February."

Wilson, on the other hand, said Acme shouldn't be discounting any foods specifically because it's Black History Month.

"What they're trying to do is pull in a particular group of people during a particular month to jack up their sales," he said. "If they want to continue to do that, they're going to see a decline."

Acme discounts products tied to 21 other holiday and ethnic celebrations. During Hispanic Heritage Month -- starting Sept. 15, Acme discounts foods such as salsa and avocados. Maria Matos of the Latin American Community Center said those discounts wouldn't offend her. Instead, she'd "head over there to shop in a heartbeat."

But because food isn't tied to Black History Month, the discounts demonstrate that Supervalu doesn't comprehend the meaning of the observation, said Ken Smikle, the founder of Chicago-based Target Market News, a firm that focuses on marketing-industry activities that target black consumers. Any controversy could easily have been avoided, Smikle said, had Supervalu sought advice from a black advertising agency.

"It's not like Thanksgiving or Christmas, and this has nothing to do with the Hispanic holiday," he said. "What's offensive about this is how that store interprets how I or anyone else celebrate Black History Month."

In Colonial times, slave owners would discard the remains of butchered hogs, and slaves would cook and season those parts, such as chitterlings and feet, into delicacies. The Acme ad took on a similar theme, Wilson said, by discounting Acme soda and maple syrup instead of the brand-name counterparts.

"This whole thing is cheapo," he said. "All the products on sale are typically low-grade products that they have to clean off the shelves. I don't know what their motive is, but it still reeks with suspicion."

Jerome Brown Jr. of New Castle felt that the ad was stereotypical, but not racist.

"I have a few friends who don't use any of these items," said Brown, who is black. "Putting collard greens and hot sauce on sale makes it more of an ignorant stereotype -- but that doesn't mean I'll stop shopping at Acme."

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SUPERVALU'S STATEMENT
"For the past seven years, ACME has sought to highlight Black History Month through in-store events, donations to community organizations and the support of minority-owned suppliers. Many of the items that are highlighted in our advertisement are products supplied through our supplier diversity program. For example, Glory Foods, an African American-owned manufacturer, is featured with four of their products because it is our way of supporting and strengthening their brand with added exposure during the month of February.

All of the manufacturers in the advertisement actively support and have partnered with ACME in its Black History Month events because we believe in and choose to recognize the vital contributions that African Americans make to not only our community but also our nation. Our advertisement was just one way that ACME chose to salute Black History Month. In partnership with [105.3 WDAS-FM] radio, ACME is holding in-store events throughout the area and will award more than $35,000 in college scholarships to local high school seniors at the culmination of our regional Black History Month events to be held later this month at the Constitution Center.

Mr. Cecil Wilson, president of the Delaware State Conference of the NAACP Branches has contacted us to raise some concerns about the advertisement. We recognize the sensitivity of our customers and are taking their concerns into account as we move forward with our celebration."


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14th Annual Edition

Latest Buying Power report shows spending up in major categories

The 14th annual edition of "The Buying Power of Black America" has been released by Target Market News. The one-of-a-kind report is the most quoted source of information on how African-American consumers spend their $744 billion in income.

According to the newest edition of "The Buying Power of Black America," there is growth in a number of major product categories despite that slowdown in overall consumer purchases. Get the details by ordering your cop now.

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The African-American
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Now in its ninth year of publication, Black Issues Book Review is the only nationally distributed magazine devoted exclusively to covering the latest news and reviews on black books. BIBR also provides up-to-date news on forthcoming author signings, book fairs and book clubs.
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